The Bongo is a spiral-horned antelope found in dense tropical jungles up to an altitude of 12,800 feet in Central Africa, with isolated populations in Kenya and other west African countries. They are shy, elusive animals, never emerging into the open and seldom seen. Males tend to be solitary while females with young live in groups of 6 to 8.
They’re fairly large, heavy-bodied antelopes standing up to 4 feet high, and both sexes have horns up to 3 feet long. The body is rich chestnut brown with narrow white stripes running across the back and down the sides. This pattern provides excellent camouflage in dense thickets.
Bongos are mostly nocturnal, timid, and easily frightened. After a scare a bongo moves away at considerable speed, seeks cover and stands still and alert, facing away from the disturbance, turning their heads to check on the situation – their hindquarters are less conspicuous than the forequarters and from this position the bongo can quickly flee. When they’re in distress they emit a bleat.
Bongos are much prized as trophies by big-game hunters and in the last few decades there has been a rapid decline in the numbers of wild mountain bongo due to poaching and human pressure of their habitat. The Bongo Surveillance Program estimates as few as 140 animals left in the wild – spread across four isolated populations, all vulnerable to extinction.
A Bongo sounds like this: